Danny Perkins & Drew Levin
Meet the fresh faces of HGTV’s newest show, Renovate to Rent. When Magnetic Productions wanted a remodeling show with a rental spin they found the real thing in Minneapolis. College roommates turned business partners, Danny Perkins (left, a contractor) and Drew Levin (right, a real estate agent) had been managing several rentals when the local network approached them about a pilot. TV had not been on their radar, but the pair felt comfortable doing what they know—fixing up homes and discussing the details. “No matter what, if you put Dan and I together we’re going to start talking work,” Levin says. After leaving the University of Florida, the pair moved to L.A. and created a social tech start-up that fizzled in a pre-Facebook world. Craving something more tangible than technology, they moved to Levin’s native Minnesota where they bought their first property. Though no longer roommates, these guys are inseparable. “You dream of working with your best friend and I think one reason why we’ve been successful is that we take our work very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously,” Perkins says. Now with 52 rental properties, a full-time employee, expanding business ideas, and a TV show, they've grown to love the camera. “It’s pretty cool and it fits in with what we’re doing,” Levin says. “But we’re business men before we’re TV stars—you won’t see Danny and I hosting Dancing With the Stars down the road.”
Target’s vice president of product design and development still loves coming to work every day after 23 years. Busy overseeing a team of 220 and developing 18,000 items a year in the “home/hardlines” category, Julie Guggemos is also one of the masterminds behind Threshold, Target’s one-year-old home brand, which stunned editors, designers, and shoppers everywhere with high-style ottomans and accessories that fly off the shelves. “Threshold is a blend of good design, quality, and value that’s unprecedented—you can’t find anything else close in the market,” Guggemos says. Creating the coveted Threshold pieces is an involved process that begins with a global trip to identify trends and how they might fit to the brand, which gets updated four to six times a year with original pieces. “We don’t want to copy other things in the market,” Guggemos says. The team compiles samples and sketches to sell the ideas to merchandising and from there, prototypes are designed and products are tested and fine-tuned with "guest" feedback. Finally a trend room, such as the one shown here, is built. Constantly living the brand, the mother of three loves to shop and decorate her Eden Prairie home, taking advantage of tried-and-true-and-tested-again Target products such as a drip-proof water jug, because, she says, “the spigot is the last thing our guest should ever worry about.”
Behind the curtain of the Walker Art Center are offices with, well, a lot of curtains. While the physical office space was designed by museum architects Herzog & de Meuron, it was the in-house eye of Andrew Blauvelt who added the “color path” of reds, yellows, blues, and purples that line the glass walls. “It’s just cheap chiffon . . . you know prom dresses,” he laughs. As the museum’s curator of architecture and design, Blauvelt is also the man behind recent exhibitions on subjects such as prefab architecture, Eero Saarinen, suburbia, and sustainability. A fan of modern architecture (he and his partner live in an ultra modern home in south Minneapolis designed by Julie Snow Architects that was featured in Dwell magazine), he spent two years in 2004 working on the prefab show. “Worldwide prefab was heating up, especially in Minneapolis with Charlie Lazor and FlatPak,” he says. Blauvelt sourced eight full-scale prefab structures, including one by Wee House and one by Lazor (the exact FlatPak that now resides by the sculpture garden), to produce the first contemporary show on prefab. Currently Blauvelt is working on a show for 2014 with Vincent James and Jennifer Yoos of VJAA on skyway systems. “It’s a complex subject; architects aren’t really supposed to like skyways,” he says. “It’s like suburbia—it’s so dominant but we don’t really talk about it—I really like those subjects.” On the deck for 2015 is a show on hippy modernism counter culture life from 1964 to 1974. Covering all aspects of design, Blauvelt inherently has more ideas than time to produce, but fortunately gets to run with many of them and create his own vision, adding, “I’m very lucky that way.”
This independent designer seems to have eye-catching projects popping up all the time on Instagram and Design Sponge, not to mention her previous work with Commune Design in L.A. on swank spaces such as the Ace Hotel. Having traveled and lived in the south of France and the Middle East, Nadia Haddad infuses a certain level of worldly cool into residences, shops, and restaurants, including The Kenwood and Café Maude. “My dad is Syrian and I’m very close to that culture,” she says. The textures, smells, community, it’s all very different than the Midwest.” Haddad keeps an eye on vintage, thrift, and upcycling as often as possible; she uses “pieces with soul in it,” as she did at Shop Mille in Southwest Minneapolis where one person walking by commented that the store looked magical. Now moving into the residential realm, Haddad credits Lucy Penfield for giving Haddad her first residential job in 2006 when she wandered into her studio. “Lucy is really giving; I learned a lot from her on residential and she opened my eyes that it could be bigger than commercial,” Haddad says. “I really love the relationship you have with someone while working on their house. In restaurants you’re creating an atmosphere to enjoy, in residential you’re creating an atmosphere to live.”
It started with a cup and turned into a line of English-made faux bois dinnerware that’s been featured everywhere from Traditional Home to most recently Architectural Digest. Now it seems Ross Sveback is building an empire. He designs, he bakes, he needlepoints, he sews, and he makes soap. Lots of soap, hand-cut with rough edges. “It’s indicative of my brand; it doesn’t have to be perfect,” Sveback says. A one-man team, Sveback does all his designing, press, and interfacing, relying on his 17-year-old daughter for advice. “I’m colorblind and had just finished needlepointing my first pillow and was so excited to show her and she said, ‘You made a green carrot, Dad!’” Relying on a lot of trial and error, he seeks out vintage patterns to create intricate designs on the pillows and despite the challenge, loves color. Even the faux bois is getting a boost this season with new colors beyond the chocolate, including Hermès orange, Spode blue, and a green gray, which will be sold on his website in addition to at Bergdorf Goodman. Currently his soaps and home accessories are available locally at shops including Anthropologie, Martha O’Hara Interiors, Grace Hill, and martinpatrick3. We can’t help but wonder, what’s next, Mr. Sveback?
He’s the man behind Trompe Decorative Finishes, with hand-painted murals in homes and restaurants all over town, including Marin at the Chambers Hotel. He’s also the owner of Omforme, which started as a modern pop-up shop. Inspired by ABC Home in New York City, Averbeck transformed a derelict space into a visually stunning store and then filled it with refinished furniture, art, and handmade accessories. He puts a spin on nearly every vintage find; for the “atomic urban farm fresh” 1950s chairs on our cover, Averbeck reupholstered the seats in Knoll’s Atomic star pattern and dipped the legs in liquid rubber. Repurposing design and creating one-of-a-kind pieces, be it artwork or seating, is the major drive behind Omforme, where product will constantly be turning over with new finds. “Mostly I want to showcase things you can’t find anywhere else in Minneapolis,” he says.